Dayton: 'Duck this, and the Vikings can leave'

Arden Hills site
A rendering of a proposed Vikings site at a former ammunition site in Arden Hills.
Courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

Having set a Nov. 23 deadline for the Legislature to pass a Vikings stadium deal, Gov. Mark Dayton is now urging lawmakers not to dither and give the NFL franchise a reason to leave the state.

On MPR's Morning Edition, Dayton also conceded that these times of financial uncertainty make it difficult to be talking helping to finance a $1.1 billion NFL venue in.

"Some things don't look good, but they're best for the future. That's the responsibility of leadership," Dayton said. "We can duck this, and the Vikings can leave, and that won't look so good, either."

Dayton also talked about the possibility of signing off on a stadium bill, just days before a scheduled state financial forecast likely to show yet another budget deficit.

A $6 billion gap all but paralyzed the last regular legislative session and resulted in a partial state government shut down over the summer.

"You know, the financing of the stadium is separate from whatever the current fiscal situation of the state would be," Dayton said. "And the purpose of the [new] stadium is to create jobs, along with other projects and economic growth, so we won't have future deficits. That's our solution to these chronic deficits, along with progressive income taxes."

Dayton is scheduled to continue his stadium push for at least two more days. He's planning to meet with officials from the National Football League Tuesday afternoon. He's supposed to talk with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf Wednesday.

"The main thing I want to be assured of is that they're willing to commit to any additional costs ensuing from, as the Met Council pointed out in its report, the possibility of delays longer than what were anticipated -- the additional costs of unforeseen contingencies which usually add more to a project than was anticipated," Dayton said. "I want to know that all that is going to be paid for by the Vikings out of their own pockets, or out of the league's pockets."

GOP leaders reacted coolly to Dayton's deadline issued Monday. House Speaker Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, said that his caucus will oppose any new statewide taxes for a stadium.

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